A day of harmony
Mayor Annise Parker offers hope and humor at 2012 inauguration ceremony
Standing before a packed house of public officals and political supporters at the Hobby Center, Mayor Annise Parker took the oath of office for a second two-year term Tuesday morning and said creating jobs will be her No. 1 priority.
While certainly tamer than the electric events kicking off Parker’s first term in 2010, the ceremony proved entertaining with rousing performances by Grammy award-winning singer Yolanda Adams and music from the Inauguration Orchestra and its chorus of more than 70 singers.
Former KHOU-TV news anchor Lisa Foronda presided over an hour-long string of speeches and performances, one of the highlights of which was Jemma Leech, a Pershing Middle School student with cerebral palsy who writes poetry with the help of a modified computer keyboard.
Joined onstage by partner Kathy Hubbard, Parker, who was wearing a bright purple jacket, recited her second mayoral oath of office, which prompted an immediate standing ovation from the crowd.
"We were founded on the confluence of two muddy streams meandering through the flat Texas coastal prairie in 1836," Parker noted. "It was hot, humid and the land was dotted with ponds of stagnant water... Why would you put a city here?"
"I do love this city," Parker said, launching into her inaugural address that balanced more topics like job-cuts and fiscal restraints with words of hope and humor.
City Controller Ronald Green, who ran unopposed in the 2011 election, followed with his oath before Parker herself swore in 16 council members, including newcomers Helena Brown, Andrew Burks Jr., Jack Christie, Ellen Cohen, Jerry Davis, Larry Green and Mike Laster.
"We are a city that, by any conventional logic, really should not be," Parker noted in a short inauguration speech. "We were founded on the confluence of two muddy streams meandering through the flat Texas coastal prairie in 1836. It was hot, humid and the land was dotted with ponds of stagnant water where mosquitoes bred in abundance... Why would you put a city here?"
While the mosquitoes are still here, she noted, the city has managed to beat the odds for nearly two centuries. "We pioneered the artificial heart and revolutionized heart transplants... The first word spoken from the moon was 'Houston.'" She predicted the first word spoken from Mars will be 'Houston,' as well.
"Everything we've done as a city in the past 175 years has been a matter of vision and will, of taking what we have and deciding what we want," Parker said. "That's why Houston, in the middle of a recession, is still the number one job-creating city in America."
In closing, Parker made a plea for unity. "We rise and fall together — we succeed or fail together," she told the audience, garnering a massive swell of applause. While it was a day of harmony, it remains to be seen how closely Parker and the council, which consists of several new members on the opposite side of most issues, will get along.
After an inaugural prayer from prominent Houston rabbi Amy Weiss, the ceremonies concluded with Yolanda Adams' showstopping rendition of "The Impossible Dream," the popular Broadway standard from 1965's Man of La Mancha.
Then Parker and the new council left immediately for their first official, but largely ceremonial, session at Houston City Hall.
For a full text of Parker's inauguration speech, click here.